11 Dec Halifax’s Explosive Winery
How does unregulated zoning in a small rural town influence my painting ideas regarding the Art of Action? It is a complex issue, dealing with a prospective business that is promising local people jobs in a poor town, but whose presence may leave potentially detrimental repercussions on the sacred rural character of Halifax and its cultural/historic heritage.
I attended a public hearing on Wednesday night in the town of Halifax, concerning the improperly-filed zoning permits for the New Honora Winery and Event Center. There is no real objection to the Winery, but rather to the unprecedented scale of an Event Center reaching into the unknown realm of “Entertainment.” There is not even a small general store in Halifax today, yet this new enterprise wants to entertain 30 weddings a year and to host 4 festivals a year – with a 200-car-maximum (and 2 bus) parking lot. Did I forget to mention the wine tasting?
Halifax is made up of largely wild, forested convulsive rolling mountains, and has very little open fields compared to the 18th and 19th centuries, when it was made up of small farms. Five years ago, the construction of an unusually large compound, Honora Winery, rose out of a wide open and pristine mountaintop in the heart of the community. It replaced the pastures of a generations-old farm with a herd of chestnut-colored ponies and draft horses.
Above and beyond the public’s obvious concerns about resulting density of traffic, light and noise pollution from music, and a change in the character of the surrounding landscape that this complex would have is the issue of unregulated zoning.
Since 60% of Halifax is zoned in rural residential fashion, a large majority of Halifax residents not only opposed the unregulated impact of Honora, but they felt they stood in jeopardy in town because they had no confidence in the zoning process. The board – with at least 12 members – was extremely unorganized, and completely unprepared to run a public hearing. They failed to provide a critical “Site Plan” for the Winery, and failed also to convey clearly what the hearing was about so that necessary and productive conditions resulting from public concerns could be made around Honora’s future operations.
Some memorable public comments:
“My heartburn is more about the poor performance of the board.”
“You can put as much lipstick on that pig as you want to…but it is still a pig.”
“Vermont is not run by Vermonters, but by lawyers.”